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Before I went to meet Jane, I had to go to Carmichaels’ book store to pick up the Southern Indiana Writers and Dying in a Winter Wonderland books they didn’t sell. No hard feelings–we sell enough of them at our own signings that we’re glad to have them back. 🙂shopexterior

I was thrilled and delighted to see that the shop across the side street from the parking lot was OPEN at last! I’ve always been there when the shop was closed, and I’ve been pining to look inside. Seeing the interior was both a disappointment and a happiness: It’s very different inside from what I thought it was, but it’s super! From the outside, especially from across the street, it looks very like a place I’ve dreamed about. Inside the shop in my dream, shopinteriorthough, everything is all junky and dusty and jumbled, and inside the real S. Bayly Boutique it’s clean and bright and beautiful and it has dogs in. The one I used to dream about is part of a run-down beach-front collection of ramshackle buildings called Rat-Trap. The shop is about in the middle of the row, and it’s run by a tall thin old man with white hair and half-glasses. He might have a cat–if so, it’s a big tough one–but not a cutie little pup like this one.

I got stuck waiting for a train to pass, but eventually Jane and I met at Shiraz and had a lunch that couldn’t be beat. She gave me some birthday presents that are so neat, they’re going to get their own post.

As usual, we went to Java Brewing for coffee. When we got up to the counter, The Amazing Cody popped up and asked, “Do you want me to leave room for water in this?” I always wanted to be recognized in public, but not so much for being a goof. Oh, well, you takes what you gets, right? Of course, right. He suggested the Pumpkin Spice Latte, which I ordered, along with a couple of biscotti to split with Jane. Cody put a beautiful feathery design on the top of my latte–I would have taken a picsh of it, but he had a can of whipped cream in his hand, and I didn’t want to interfere with that. A schplootsch of whipped cream, a sprinkle of cinnamon, and heaven came to earth. Mmmmmmmm….

An excellent day.


writing prompt: Write down everything you can think of about a place you’ve dreamed about. Invent ten additional things.

Three happy things happened yesterday:

  1. I got a refund from a hospital I had overpaid by $20 about nine years ago.
  2. I got an email from a reader of World Wide Recipes who said he loved my Culinary Chronicles.
  3. Tony Burton, editor at Wolfmont Press, sent this:

DYING IN A WINTER WONDERLAND made the Top Ten bestsellers for 2008 for the IMBA (Independent Mystery Booksellers Association)!
1 – Lisa Lutz, The Spellman Files, Simon & Schuster
2 – Tana French, In the Woods, Penguin
3 – Brent Ghelfi, Volk’s Game, Picador
4 – Lorna Garrett, Murder is Binding, Berkley
5 – Louise Penny, Still Life, St. Martin’s
6 – tie
Christopher Fowler, Full Dark House, Bantam
Leonie Swann, Three Bags Full, Flying Dolphin
8 – Tony Burton, ed., Dying in a Winter Wonderland, Wolfmont
9 – Clare Langley-Hawthorne, Consequences of Sin, Penguin
10 – Jacqueline Winspear, Masie Dobbs, Penguin

Note position #8!!!

That, my friends, is the IMBA’s list of bestselling titles for 2008,
for softcover books.

It’s SOOOOOO cool to see a book from Wolfmont in there with
books from Simon & Schuster, Penguin, Berkley, Bantam…
and not at the end of the list, either!

Here’s the link to the page:

Wheeeeee! Today, it’s worth being alive!


writing prompt: Go to a bookstore, real or online, and pick out ten books at random. Create a character with that list as his/her top ten favorite books.

I said more than a week ago that I would post pictures of our signing, and I don’t think I ever did.

“We” means both the Southern Indiana Writers and S. M. Harding and I, S. H. (Suzanne) and I both being in DYING IN A WINTER WONDERLAND, Wolfmont Press’s Toys for Tots anthology.

We approached our target:


Little did they know…. HA!

The Mystery Company turned out to be a great place, and we would have said so, even if it DIDN’T have a coffee and chocolate shop as part of it.


Jim Huang and a charming woman whose name I never got were actually happy to see us!


Suzanne (S. M. Harding) turned out to be not only a fine writer but a delightful person. She very generously donated a free cup of coffee to everyone who brought in a toy for the Marines’ toy collection box. This picture of her would be less blurry if I had partaken less of her generosity. Javajavajavajava!


We sold ALL the Toys for Tots books and people brought in so many toys the Marine had to make three trips to his vehicle to load up! Here are Suzanne, a VERY cute Marine and Old Lady Allen–in other words, me.


And a fine time was had by all.


Southern Indiana Writers’ next signing is December 13 from 1-4pm at the Harrison County Public Library.


Writing Prompt: The Mystery Company ONLY stocks mysteries, crime fiction, suspense and non-fiction related thereto. What kind of “dedicated” store would you like to visit? What kind would one of your characters like to visit or to run?

I went over and had lunch with Jane at Shiraz Mediterranean Grill on Frankfort Avenue. It is SO GOOD! I had the falafel. I usually can’t resist their shish kebab, but I had just had that the last time I was in, and their falafel is the best–big and fluffy and spicy…. Mmmmmm! I had one left over and I brought it home. I’m going to cook some Basmati rice and lentils to have with it.

Here is Jane in front of Shiraz, and a close-up of the Shiraz sign.



Then we went to Sister Dragonfly again, my major vice these days. I have GOT to stop GOING there! I bought a silver ring set with a blue/violet iolite, a silver necklace set with a red stone that I think Jane said was some kind of opal?? and a brown wood necklace. Must… stop… going…!

Here is a picture of their wonderful “signage”, of the dragonfly someone drew in wet cement outside their door, and two people coming to do their Christmas shopping. I told the lady I was going to put her picture on my blog so, if she’s looking, HI, LADY!




I got an email from Tony Burton today, editor of the DYING IN A WINTER WONDERLAND anthology, saying that he had put a trailer up here and there for the book. Then he said he was sorry, that he had misspelled my name. Well, that’s no biggie. For the record, my name is Marian, not Marion, but, even though he stated a firm intent to change it, I told him not to bother. What’s one little vowel between friends?

Oh, and I did my 2000 words for NaNoWriMo today. Yay!


Writing prompt: What is your main character’s favorite “Girls’ Day (or Boys’ Day) out?

No, I’m not channeling Ray Milland, and I’m not finding bottles of booze in my light fixtures, I’m just saying I didn’t get any work done this weekend. Busy all day yesterday, all day today.

This morning, the guests got up long before the crack o’ dawn and Charlie and I made breakfast. We had eaten all the canned biscuits–which Charlie prefers above all others–so I made buttermilk biscuits (recipe follows). Then our company left. I must say, I didn’t look forward to a houseful of guys, but this was a wonderful visit. The only thing that would have improved it would have been if one of them liked football.

Yesterday, they all came in town for my signing, then we went to Olga’s Mexican restaurant on the square and then they went to a piano concert in Louisville, meeting our #2 daughter and her husband and another friend there.

It’s good to have our house and quiet back, but I sure wish they lived closer so we could all get together more often. So much good talk, so much good spirits, so much friendship–it was a weekend to treasure.

Anyway, then I went to church and then I went to MOM’S church, for their Thanksgiving fund-raiser turkey dinner, which couldn’t be beat.

Mom and I went to Destinations Booksellers in New Albany. They’re having a birthday, and were giving discounts on anything bought this weekend. I got some books which I’ll list tomorrow. They’re carrying DYING IN A WINTER WONDERLAND, so I also checked to see if I needed to bring any more in or pick unsold copies up. We were copacetic, so Mom and I moved on. On consideration, we skipped a couple of other errands we had contemplated and went home.

I don’t know what she did, but I flopped on the couch and napped for two hours. Another big day tomorrow and another on Tuesday, but I have good intentions of getting back in the groove and chugging out some good words for NaNoWriMo. I’m WAY behind on my word count goal now, but I believe I can catch up.

Oh–the recipe:

BUTTERMILK BISCUITS (free today–special reference for R&B fans)

  • 2 cups all-purpose (regular) flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 3/4 to 1 cup buttermilk

Heat oven to 450F. Mix dry ingredients. Cut butter into dry ingredients until the mixture looks like meal. Stir in almost all the buttermilk. Add more if necessary. Dough should be soft but workable. Put flour onto a board and knead dough lightly 20 to 25 times, about 1/2 minute. Roll 1/2 inch thick. Cut with floured biscuit cutter. Place on ungreased baking sheet. Top with dots of butter. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown.


Writing prompt: Three of your characters spend the weekend WITH YOU. What do you do? What do you talk about? What do you eat? If you go somewhere, where do you go? How do you feel about each and all of them when it’s all over?

I had a booksigning at the Harrison County Library and I’m MOST pleased! I know 10 copies doesn’t sound like a lot to sell, but some of the people who bought copies don’t even know me! So I’m happy, even if I didn’t get one single word written for NaNoWriMo.

signingReading from left to right: mug that looks like it’s a brick wall with HAPPY HOLIDAYS spray-painted on it, which I had a drawing to give away. JACKIE–CONGRATULATIONS! sheet for people to sign up to be notified of future signings. Stand-up poster of cover with price written on side. books. Christmas candy to give away and paper bag for wrappers. Behind the desk–Me, dressed to match the cover so people would instantly associate me with the book.

Mom asked me to take her laptop this morning, when we worked at the Friends of Harrison County Book Box. I expected to download her updates and then get some writing done, but then she needed a virus and spyware scan and they needed to be cleaned up, and then something else and something else so I ended up not getting any writing done.

Then the signing was great. Samantha came in and stayed the whole time, and it was WONDERFUL to get the chance to visit with her–there never seems to be time, and we had a good long visit. Jackie came in, with the cutest brown wool hat covering her chemo-bald head. Bless her heart, she is such a sweetie. Jeremiah came in with his bride Lorna–SUCH a pretty woman! Carol came in, and she and Samantha and I talked NaNoWriMo a little, since we’re all trying it this year. A woman who’s writing a children’s book that sounds like a sure winner came in, and a little girl came up to talk to “the writer” because she says she wants to be a writer–she says she makes up stories all the time and her mother writes down the words. Her first name is Danielle, and I’ve already forgotten her last name. I should have written it down. Maybe it’ll come to me. If it does, I’ll post it, and we can all watch for her in the future!


Writing prompt: Who is your main character’s favorite living author? Invent one, if you like. If your character were walking past a bookstore and saw that author doing a signing, would he/she go to it? What would he/she say?

First, Trick or Treat is officially extended to and including November 8, the day of my SIGNING at the Harrison County Library in Corydon, Indiana.

My signing is from 1 to 4 pm, and the book being sold and signed is DYING IN A WINTER WONDERLAND, the Toys for Tots benefit book.

I’ve done my first day’s writing session for NaNoWriMo–National Novel Writing Month! So proud, so proud. I did 2003 words, my my word processor’s count. Yay, me!

Charlie is putting a new sink into the upstairs bathroom, which means we don’t have water. Yes, it’s past lunch time. Yes, I have to pee.

Oh–he’s finished.

Might do more writing today! Yay–I’m in the groove!


writing prompt: What is your main character having for lunch? What is your villain having?

I am so proud to announce I’ve had a story accepted in the third annual Wolfmont Press anthology to benefit Toys for Tots ™! This one is called DYING IN A WINTER WONDERLAND and my story is called “Team Player”.

Dying in a Winter Wonderland

Dying in a Winter Wonderland

All the authors donated our stories, and Tony Burton, the publisher, is donating all his profits to Toys for Tots ™. All the stories are mysteries that take place during the winter holiday season. The books can be ordered online from booksellers, through your local independent book store’s connections to Baker & Taylor and Ingram’s, or directly from Wolfmont. None of us–publisher or authors–are making a nickel off this. It’s all for the kids.


writing exercise: The parents of a child you have never liked find themselves in a desperate financial bind at Christmas. They won’t apply for “charity” and have no friends or family. What do you do, if anything? How would a selection of your characters react? Say, I like this one. I think I may write a story with this one. Sara, guess who it’s about? Who’s your second guess?


Here is where I ramble on about whatever happens to fall through my mind. I also have a professional site, where I post about my books, stories, news and appearances. Every month, I post a “Hot Flash” there–a story or prose poem of about 50 words. I hope you enjoy your visit. –Marian Allen

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